A little over three years ago, I stepped, rather shakily, on to EKU’s campus for the first time. I had been on college tours before for school field trips, but this was my first “actually-thinking-about-going-here” tour. The guide herded us around campus, pointing out notable buildings and listing off the various programs. In a sense, it all seemed very glamorous and “adult,” but it was also equally terrifying. I cowered at the thought of leaving my small hometown of 5,000 people to come to a school of 16,000. I had kept the same five best friends since kindergarten, and I wasn’t sure if I was prepared to completely overhaul my social circle. The thought of coming to this school, only to regret it later, haunted me.
I am now a senior here at EKU and when I walk past a group of high schoolers on their first college tour, I have to fight the impulse to stop and tell them the angelic truth I wish I had known at their age: It’s not as scary as it seems. Just find what you love, and dig into it. In the last three years, not only have I found what I loved (English and writing) but I have found other people who love it, too. I found a place where I belonged.
I came to Eastern as a nursing major, and while I have upmost respect for the profession, it was not for me. I came to the point where I realized I had to stop listening to what I was “supposed” to do, and do what I wanted, so I took the plunge and changed my major to English. I immediately noticed how much more interested I was in my classes. I no longer dreaded reading the assigned material; I strangely looked forward to it.
It was more than that, though. I really began connecting with my professors. I would stay after class to talk to them about writing and books. Their offices were always open any time I needed help with the material or just a listening ear. Even though I’m an English major, I know this is true for other departments. All of my roommates are music majors, and I often hear them talking about how close the music department is, both at a student and faculty level. I have theatre friends who brag about how supportive their professors are when it comes to their theatrical productions. The professors aren’t just here because it’s their job. They’re here because they’re passionate about the subject, and because they care about their students.
It’s also important to remember that your interests don’t have to end in the classroom. Join a club. Join three. Nearly every major has some kind of honor society or organization associated with it, but you don’t even have to limit yourself there. Maybe you’re a biomedical science major who likes to dance. Join the ballroom dancing club. Try out for dance theatre. When you grow up around the same people for most of your life, like I did, you tend to get put into a box. You’re the athletic one, or the smart one, or the artsy one. When I came to Eastern, I realized that I didn’t have to be just be one thing. I could be all of them, or none of them. I could be anything I wanted.
Maybe you don’t know what you want. Don’t stress. A lot of people don’t. I sure didn’t for a long time. Explore. EKU sends out emails every day, listing the different campus activities that are happening that day. Every morning, I look at those and pick out the ones that interest me. If something sounds fun, go for it. If you get there and don’t like it, you can leave. You have nothing to lose and lifelong friendships and support system to gain.
When I packed my bags three years ago, and I said my goodbye to my tiny town in the hills, everyone told me the same thing: “Enjoy the college experience; get involved!” In my head, getting involved meant becoming student body president or going to football games, and while those things are awesome ways to get involved, they’re not the only way. For me, it was going to English department picnics, and reading my poetry at open mic nights, and joining a yoga class. What I didn’t realize three years ago was that I wasn’t just coming to school. I was coming to my second home. I was coming to the place that would shape the person I will be for the rest of my life. I think it’s safe to say I don’t regret my decision.
(Note: The author is Yasmin White, a senior English major from Paintsville, Kentucky.)